Say This, Not That: Avoiding Destructive Parenting Habits

As parents, we possess great power in what we say to our children and how we say it. With power though, comes great responsibility. Like a small rudder that can control the direction of a large ship, our tongues are naturally a small part of our body that can make a huge impact on the course of our lives and others (James 3:4-12). Therefore, we must be conscious of the impact our words have on our children at all times.

One way we can help our children is by using enforceable statements. In addition, Tim Elmore, an author, expert, and founder of Growing Leaders, recently offered these 5 practical tips for replacing destructive parenting habits:

1. Replace fear with wisdom.
“Simply offering logical wisdom for each decision completely reframes their attitude and stifles their inner fear.”
Say This: You may drive to the mall if you’re with your friends and text me when you get there.
Not That: You can’t drive to the mall. The traffic is terrible!

2. Replace a focus on grades with a focus on growth.
“Too often, we’re misguided and create stress in our children. We measure the wrong things. Our focus should be on strengths, not struggles…Let’s obsess over growth, not grades.”
Say This: I love how your science grade improved!
Not That: You still only have a C in science.

3. Replace clutter with simplicity.
“According to Dr. Robert Leahy, the average teen today has the same level of anxiety as a psychiatric patient did in the early 1950s. Stress levels have continued to climb for more than seventy years. This is absurd.”
Say This: You may pick one extra-curriculum activity to participate in this spring.
Not That: Hurry up or we’ll never get to soccer practice on time.

4. Replace “uncontrollable” with “controllables.”
“We must cultivate a growth mindset in our students. We must treat our brains like a muscle that can grow.”
Say This: One day, you will be good at math.
Not That: You’re just not good at math.

5. Replace emphasizing behavior with emphasizing belief.
“When I correct students because I’m convinced they’re capable of more, I call out the best in them, rather than the worst. Too many kids are fragile and need us to get this one right.”
Say This: I know you’re capable of exceeding my expectations.
Not That: I can’t believe you did that.

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